Combat Sports

Over the passed few weeks, I have had the privilege to work with an up and coming mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Lexi Rook who trains out of First Generation fitness under Tolly Plested. Whatever martial art or combat sports you do, cuts, bruises, strained muscles and torn ligaments are just a hand full of the injuries potentially sustained by a practitioner on an average day.


In these sports, pain and injury can be a regular occurrence, and not just for those who are competing.  One of the leading injuries for these types of athletes is muscle soreness or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which is simply a side-effect of intense, invasive training.


MMA combat sports
BJJ competition


Regardless of how much athletes warm up or stretch out their muscles, they will experience this painful inconvenience at some point during their training career. However, dealing with and learning to ‘listen’ to the the pain is critical, because it could be the start of a serious injury which could hinder training, performance and progression.

Scar Tissue

Deep tissue massage is one of the many ways to help prevent this. I often read how massage helps break down scar tissue, this is not actually correct, if you have proper scar tissue, then only a diamond drill bit will do that job. Massage helps to break up the adhesions of the tissue that form in and around the vicinity of an injury. It’s these adhesions that become scar tissue.

Dealing with them early, especially during the rehabilitation of an injury, is the key to keeping muscles in the best condition and most importantly the ability to use them properly.

What is soft tissue therapy?

My job is to work the soft tissues of the body, that means muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia to ensure they are kept in the best condition. I use a number of techniques to identify and address any problems and to maintain the muscles fibres.

Deep Tissue

This is a style of massage therapy which combines firm pressure and slow strokes to access deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue surrounding the muscles, which is known as the fascia.

It’s often sought out by people with chronic pain, muscle tightness and sore shoulders; though the list of who it helps goes on and on.

Top flight

look at the staff list of any top level sports person and you won’t have to look far to find a soft tissue professional in there. Many professionals are getting massage on a daily basis to keep the muscles in the best condition. Of course that can be cost restrictive for any one but the top flight of athletes with sponsorship deals or those with access to a club therapist.


Thai boxing gym combat sports

How often?

As often as possible, in reality I recommend at least a once a month ‘maintenance massage’. This is going to give you a chance to get some recovery work into the muscles and for your therapist to notice any significant changes to the tissue and spot any potential injuries.

If you are carrying an injury then increasing the number of sessions will speed up the recovery process and get you back on the mat or in the ring or cage quicker.


Whilst some of the techniques used during a deep tissue massage are similar to those used in Swedish massage, this style of massage is far more evasive. It uses deep pressure, unlike Swedish massage, which is made up of soft, gentle and relaxing strokes.

Stretching and ‘unlocking’ techniques will also be used so that muscles re-set and you regain full range of motion.

Deep tissue massage works to break up the formation of scar tissue, knots and adhesions which are often responsible for disrupting circulation, thus causing pain. Fighters are prone to damaging soft tissue, so benefit hugely from this style of massage

Soft tissue work can

–    Reduce back pain
–    Improve or cure repetitive strain injury
–    Improve Sciatica
–    Reduce muscle tension right across the body
–    Improve posture
–    Improve flexibility – Very important for any fighter! 
–    Treat Tennis elbow
–    Reduce lower back pain
–    Improve mobility – Strike and block quicker!
–    Reduce arthritis pain
–    Repair scar tissue
–    Quicken recovery – More mat time!
–    Reduce muscle soreness
–    Enhance muscle relaxation

The final round

Most massage styles are designed to relax the mind and body, and deep tissue massage is no different. Relaxation is one of the most important parts of any athletes schedule, the body needs time to heal and recover in order to come back stronger.

Ultimately, deep tissue massage repairs damaged tissue and muscles, but it also relaxes both of them too.It enables chronic tension to ease and relieves the stress from intense activity. Exercising with cold muscles is a recipe for a disaster, but many sports people do this. How many people do you know that skip the warm down or mobility session?

Deep tissue massage is often only sought out in the event of an injury. Really whatever your combat sport it should be part of your training regime, alongside mobility and relaxation techniques. If you would like to discuss your needs and whether the therapy could benefit you please feel free to get in touch.

Final round boxing